“So I don’t understand all the righty hitters,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve never been a big fan of it. And especially as a Yankee, I want to see left-handed hitters.”
Rodriguez has feuded in the past with General Manager Brian Cashman, and this is not the first time he has criticized him or his strategy. Cashman, the G.M. since 1998, also learned plenty from Michael, who nurtured the farm system that gave rise to a dynasty. Cashman’s teams have always had a winning record and have reached the postseason 19 times.
But this does not look like the kind of roster that will return the Yankees to the World Series for the first time since 2009. Like many teams, the Yankees have been hit hard by injuries (to Zack Britton, Corey Kluber, Luke Voit and the switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks). And while the pitching staff has been surprisingly strong, the offense is abysmal.
The Yankees had reason to trust their right-handed hitters, who mashed right-handed pitching last season for an .842 on-base plus slugging percentage, nearly 100 points better than the major league average. In general, left-handed hitters hold less appeal than they did in Rodriguez’s heyday; lefties batted .269 off right-handers in 2009, but with infield shifts now so common, that mark has dropped to .235 this season.
In any case, the Yankees’ formula helped them score an A.L.-best 5.25 runs per game in the shortened 2020 season, but in these 60 games, it’s gone all wrong: the Yankees are averaging just 3.72 runs per game in 2021. They have run into 28 outs on the bases, the most in the majors, but that’s about the only running they do — the Yankees have just 14 stolen bases, fewer than any team other than Cincinnati.
The team batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentages are .228, .315 and .371. Those marks are roughly identical to the career figures of longtime former catchers like Kelly Stinnett and Dave Valle, who had respectable careers but rather ordinary bats.